DuckDuckGo – the search engine better than Google

Google hoarding data always worried me but the results where the best – no competitor could deliver results that good.

how I do search

For many years I am using Firefox’s “keyword search”-feature. This feature (first introduced by Opera iirc) helps specifying the site/search engine within the address bar and may be just one character long.

If I type “searching the web using my default search engine” into the address bar and confirm it with return, the text will be searched with my default search machine (DuckDuckGo). But if i prepend a “g” followed by a space, the text will be searched by Google. Analogue if I configured to prepend an “a” for Amazon, “e” for Ebay and “d” for translations by Leo.org.

  • “g Porsche 911” searches on Google for “Porsche 911”
  • “a Porsche 911” searches on Amazon for “Porsche 911”
  • “e Porsche 911” searches on Ebay for “Porsche 911”
  • “gi Porsche 911” searches on Google Images for “Porsche 911”
  • etc.

So setting a default search engine is a comfort feature or me to not have to specify/prepend the search engine.

looking for Google-Alternatives

Every now and then I convinced myself to try “not Google” as my default search engine as colleagues where using Bing for all their searches – happily. So I once tried Yahoo, then Bing, ixquick, and MetaGer to be my default search engine. Also when switching I forced myself to use that search engine for at least one week. I’ve been doing this for the last two years searching for an alternative – everytime with the same result -> switching back to Google as my default search engine.

the difference

Until I tried DuckDuckGo. IIRC I tried DuckDuckGo some months ago and was not pleased (while writing this I think I might mistook it for ixquick). Nevertheless I switched my default browser again and was excited looking at that result when searching for “linux test wifi strength”. Not only was there a list of links pointing me to websites where the answer to my question might be found but the result from the top hit presented right under my search query.

For comparison the Googel result:

The advantage is obvious – instead of clicking on the first hit, there looking for the answer to my question you get the solution right at a glance. The “Google step” where you have to click on a result list to get the answer you are looking for is omitted. Awesome!

Not always .. but every now and then

This of course does not work with every search query but when I was searching for “php cast string” (and similar things about programming) the answer was right there.

And Google for comparison.

Nice also

Very nice also was the result for the search query “beautify html”.

DuckDuckGo itself can beautify obfuscated HTML no need to click my way to yet another web page – another click less for me.

MediaWiki update script “mediawiki-updater”

Because repetative tasks bore me (my principle is: “If you have to do something twice, automate it. Every time you have to do it again increases the likeliness of doing it again.”), I have written a two scripts to automate the task “update MediaWiki”.

As I manage installations on both Linux and Windows I created a Bash and a PowerShell script.

The files (and their requirements) can be found in the following repo:

https://github.com/gpunktschmitz/mediawiki-updater

Here are the steps the scripts do:
1. check if a new release is available
2. backup the MySQL database
3. backup (copy) the current installation
4. download new MediaWiki release
5. extract new MediaWiki release into a temporary directory
6. overwrite current installation (files) with the new release
7. delete the directory “vendor”
8. clone the external libraries into the directory “vendor” using git
9. delete old backups (but keep the last 3)
10. run the script “maintenance/update.php”

While creating these I thought of running them by cron/scheduled task. They are not yet perfect for that – but I was able to successfully update my installations from version 1.28.2 to 1.29.0 by manually running them.

Hope it helps you automate that task also.

toggle window “always on top” via shortcut

When I use Windows I still use the aged tool WinSplit which brings the shortcut “CTRL+ALT+O” with it. This keeps the current window always on top of all other.

I wanted this functionality (and the shortcut) also on my laptop which is running Linux Mint.

This works without any additional software as the functionality is built-in and available via the context menu of every programme icon.

https://cdn.gpunktschmitz.de/blog/183/00-manually-set-window-always-on-top.png

And a programme to add shortcuts exists also.

https://cdn.gpunktschmitz.de/blog/183/01-open-keyboard-shortcuts.png

So, starting the programme “Keyboard Shortcuts” and click the “Add”-Button.

https://cdn.gpunktschmitz.de/blog/183/02-add-new-keyboard-shortcut.png

Entering a name and the following as the command:

wmctrl -r :ACTIVE: -b toggle,above

https://cdn.gpunktschmitz.de/blog/183/03-enter-new-shortcut-command.png

Once the shortcut is added you click on the column “Shortcut” of if (where it says “Disabled”).

https://cdn.gpunktschmitz.de/blog/183/04-click-on-disabled-to-set-new-shortcut.png

Now you can add the favoured shorcut by simply pressing it.

https://cdn.gpunktschmitz.de/blog/183/05-press-shortcut-and-close.png

SikuliX – pressing key combinations

I just wanted to quickly automate a task using my favourite tool SikuliX. Therefore I had to make it press a key combination. Trial and error with the first web-results did not work.

First, because the syntax seems to have changed and second, because I ignored upper and lower case in my test scripts – which SikuliX does not.

Here are some examples of key combinations you can use in SikuliX:

# CTRL+HOME
type(Key.HOME, KeyModifier.CTRL)
 
# ALT+F4
type(Key.F4, KeyModifier.ALT)
 
# CTRL+v
type('v', KeyModifier.CTRL)
 
# CTRL+ALT+ESC
type(Key.ESC, KeyModifier.CTRL+KeyModifier.ALT)

FileZilla Server – Connection attempt failed with ECONNREFUSED – Connection refused by server

the problem

When I was trying to set up a FileZilla Server using FTPS and the default settings I got the error “ECONNREFUSED – Connection refused by server”.

the cause

This was due to the default parameter for the IP address retrieval.

The erroneous script always returns 127.0.0.1.

the solution

I’ve set up a script which returns the current public IP.

https://gpunktschmitz.com/ip/

so you want to test your internet speed? use fast.com!

When I first heard of http://speedof.me I instantly fell in love with it. In the beginning it was ad-free, fast, reliable and mobile-friendly. Eventually they added ads and I didn’t like the delay in page load time.

Furthermore, all i wanted to know when running those speed tests was the download speed. SpeedOf.Me offers more, you can run the test multiple times and you with see a history with the times and figures. A feature I rarely used/needed.

 

Having problems with my internet connection my provider pointed me to https://fast.com. There I was again falling in love with a webpage. It loads instantly (as there is not much to load) and immediately starts what I want to know – testing the download speed. It’s just perfect as it is for my use cases – Thanks Netflix!

Robocopy – ERROR 123 (0x0000007B) – copy directories with spaces

robocopy meme

the problem

Using a current PowerShell with tab completion (the shell adds all quotes and spaces) you get the command:

Robocopy.exe 'C:\tmp\source with spaces\' 'C:\tmp\target with spaces\' /e

And executing it you get the error message:

robocopy the filename directory name or volume label syntax is incorrect

Note that the source and target are “strangly” interpreted. The \' at the end of the source and target escapes the slash and thus the whole command gets erroneous.

The solution

The solution is super easy, you simply remove the last backslash from source and target.

Robocopy.exe 'C:\tmp\source with spaces' 'C:\tmp\target with spaces' /e

Backup Exec – TECH126877 – the device or media server cannot be deleted because existing jobs or selection lists remain

The Problem

Quite some time ago I wasn’t able to delete a device (storage target) named “internal RAID” in Backup Exec 15. The GUI came up with this error message:

“The device (or media server) cannot be deleted because existing jobs or selection lists remain.”

Going through all jobs in the GUI i could not find any with the storage as target of a backup job. Very strange …

The Google-Search

Firing up Google I found the technical article fromĀ Symantec Veritas TECH126877 suggesting to call the Symantec Support?!?!1

The solution

I could not believe this was the suggested way to remove a device from Backup Exec and by chance stumbled upon the “Backup Exec Management Command Line”-Tool.

windows-search-backup-exec

Firing it up welcomes you with the basic commands. Typing “Get-BECommand” gives you an overview of all available BackupExec commands.

backup-exec-management-command-line-interface

In this list I found the commands “Get-BEJob” and “Remove-BEJob”. So let’s check what we get if we run “Get-BEJob”.

backup-exec-management-command-line-interface-get-bejob

Great, we get an object which we can filter by “Storage”. So let’s see what “Remove-BEJob” takes as an input.

man-remove-bejob

I see, so I can pipe those objects from “Get-BEJob” to “Remove-BEJob”.

All it takes is to get all BackupExec jobs using “Get-BEJob”, filter those where the storage is “internal RAID” and pipe those objects to “Remove-BEJob”.

One can also add “-WhatIf” to see what it removes .. just to be sure ;)

remove-backup-exec-jobs-with-mapped-devices

Get-BEJob | where storage -eq "internal RAID" | Remove-BEJob

All it takes is a bit of PowerShell .. or one could of course call the Symantec/Veritas Support …

laptop does not suspend when lid is closed

suddenly my laptop did not suspend when i closed the lid. i checked all settings of my linux mint 17 installation and all settings where correct. a quick search pointed me to http://askubuntu.com/questions/395428/laptop-does-not-suspend-when-lid-is-closed.

the solution for me was to edit /etc/systemd/logind.conf, changing the option HandleLidSwitch to suspend (valid options are suspend, hibernate and poweroff) and reboot the machine.

my favourite radio stations – a link collection for using on the go/mobile

why this?

when egofm (my favourite german radio stations) stopped supporting my mobile operating system (ios 5) with their app i looked for the direct link to their stream. i was using direct links for my other favourite radio station somafm for several years and thus created a site with direct links to the streams of both radio stations for easy access on the go using my mobile (iphone). after testing the links with other operating systems i noticed that you need an app to playback the streams on android or windows phone .. so no guarantee that it works on any other operating system out of the box …

for whom?

i originally created it for my private use only. but as some friends asked for the link i thought i could as well make it public.

the link

http://radio.gpunktschmitz.de

howto playback

iphone

using the iphone the streams are played with no additional software needed.

windows phone (8 or later)

when you tap on one of the links you will be presented with a selection of apps that are supposed to be able to play those streams. install one of them and give it a try (i had issues with egofm lately .. dunno what’s wrong there).

android

as i don’t own an android device this is only a suggestion/wild guess as result of some google searches. there is an app named servestream which is said to support the streams.

enjoy the music!